Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tis the season to be... slightly morbid

Veronica has been working hard at the craft table. asking us how to spell things in spite of her inability to write most letters and writing furiously. Finally finished with her project she proudly staples the final product (as all things have to be stapled lately) and presents it to Suzy.

Veronica: Here Suzy, this is a book for you. It's so you can remember me when I'm dead.
Suzy: You can keep it.
Veronica: But it's about us. so you can remember me when I'm dead.
Suzy: I'll always remember you Veronica.
Veronica: Even all the stuff that we did? (great suspicion in her voice)
Suzy: Yes! (so exasperated that her sister would doubt her)
Veronica: But I made the book!
Momma can't take it anymore: Can I have the book?
Veronica: Yes! It's all about me. Read it to me Mom.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Just one parent please

it's a love/struggle time here in the Becksfort house tonight. Suzy and Veronica emerge from their room 30 minutes after being put to bed. This is the ensuing conversation:

Mom: Hey, what are you guys doing out here?
Suzy: Um, I just need to talk to one of you.
Veronica: I need to talk to BOTH of you.
Mom: You need to tell me why you are out here and not in bed.
Veronica: Because Suzy wanted to get out of bed and come sleep out here (gesturing to the living room)
Suzy: NO! I wanted to know if i could go lay in your bed till Veronica falls asleep.
Suzy: yes, you will.
Veronica: No, and you cannot leave because I can not sleep by myself.
Mike: Yes, Suzy go lay on our bed. Veronica go back to your bed.
Veronica: But I can not ever sleep! (cue fake crying)

These two are in a love/bicker/love/giggle/chase/bossy/love/bicker cycle lately. It doesn't help that Veronica took a nap today. I probably does feel like she will never sleep tonight.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Suzy's interests

Suzy has had a hard time as of late. Poor Suzy is not allowed to do 10 year old things. This has become a terrible burden for her to bear. She did not get to go to the Crazy Hair tour with Mom, she did not get to go to the How To Train Your Dragon Live event with Nanny. Why do her big sisters get to do ALL the fun stuff and she gets to do NOTHING?

In my best parenting tactic, I pull out the empathy card. "You know Suzy, Veronica feels the same way you do. She wishes she could do things that 7 year olds get to do".

Suzy swats away this logic, as if it were no better than a pesky fruit fly. Try another tactic mom.

"Alright, would it be fair to make Jillian and Alyssa only do things that 7 year olds can do? Do you want us to limit you to only do things that 4 year olds can do? Veronica is your little sister, she wants to do all the things too. If we make it so that the kids can only do things that everyone can do, that means you will only be doing the things that are appropriate for the 4 year old"

Suzy replies with pure honesty. "You know Mom, I'm not really all that interested in Veronica's life, but I am REALLY interested in Jilli and Ali's".

Ain't that just the way it goes little sister...

Conversations with Veronica

Veronica had her first dance lesson this week. She loved it! I even got a "thank you for taking me to dance lessons today" when I tucked her in that night. score. When I asked her immediately after the class if she liked dancing she informed that that they had not learned any dancing. They learned how to run very carefully. I asked "oh you mean on your tippy toes?" she replied "no mom I used both my feet".

Today, I was doing laundry downstairs and Veronica was playing upstairs at the dining room table. I had just brought up a load of laundry and was heading to their room to put it away when I heard Veronica let out a very loud fart in the dining room. She then proceeded to tell the empty room. "it wasn't me. that was a stinky one and I didn't do it". I'm not sure if it's progress or not that she's no longer trying to blame Casey as she did for about two weeks after we were done dog-sitting for Mike Shell.

My mom was talking with Veronica about the fact that God knows everything and Veronica couldn't help but chime in. "I know everything too Nanny".  *pause* "Do you think he heard that? cause I was just kidding". Well, if we have accomplished nothing else with our fourth child, we have apparently managed to put a little bit of the fear of the Lord in her.

We got to attend a ballet performance of Beauty and the Beast starring our very favorite little Yeazel ladies tonight. Veronica sat on Mike's lap for the entire show. At one point when the village was ready to go after the beast, Veronica turns to Mike and whispers "We should not have come here". Fortunately she made it through to the happy ending and was glad enough to declare "I am glad we came". Suzy even cried a little when she thought the beast had died and was overjoyed after the show that she got to hug Belle. Apparently, Disney is closer to home than we thought :)

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Home Sweet Home!

The last leg of our trip had its ups and downs, first the lake we went to in Texas decided not to be a lake anymore. Our plan was to camp near this beautiful lake in a national recreation area. When we got there we found a deserted and empty valley.

 This lake spanned for miles and is now basically a puddle of its former self. The camp sites were shockingly deserted and the wind was a pretty consistent 20-25 mph. Add all those factors together and you get Becksforts back on the road, headed for a motel.
 We did pass Cadillac Ranch and all the kids signed and decorated with Sharpies. Jillian was doing her best to make some logical sense out of Cadillacs buried in the ground for people to decorate. None to be found dear, none to be found. Just fun.
 This made me laugh out loud. "welp, I don't have a trailer, but I've got this extra truck see, but nobody to drive it for me, guess i'll just fix it up so it all works out"

After we crashed in a Route 66 motel for the night, we got up and headed to Lake Eufaualah or something like that in Oklahoma. They still have water in Oklahoma, so that worked out well. the kids swam in the lake and we had smores by the fire and used glow necklaces and Jillian's sword from Disneyland to have a fun late night there. Ali was just about done with bugs at this point though. There's only so much nature a 10 year old girl can handle and the gross factor (as well as the tired factor) were starting to affect her ability to not freak out.

The next morning we had breakfast and headed out to our last stop before home. We drove all the way across Arkansas and into Tennessee. The main thing we noticed about Arkansas was that the scenery was starting to feel familiar again. Trees, hills, you know, normal stuff. vs deserts, flat flat flat flat cowfields, crazy mountain roads. The other thing we noticed about Arkansas is that they need to rename some of their towns (hello, Toad Suck, Arkansas we're talking to you) and reconsider their restaurant names. The "Pig Out Palace" and "Chair Crushers" (complete with logo of fat person breaking a chair) were two that we decided to skip for lunch.

We made our way to Memphis, Tennessee where we turned south to stay at a Jellystone just across the border in Mississippi. We had heard that Jellystones were great for kids, so we thought it would be a treat for our last night camping. It was a great place to stay. They had inflatable water slides and a great pool. There were lots of playgrounds and other kids too. We were the only tent campers but it wasn't as hot as it had been so we were fine. We camped right next to a pond where there were baby toads and tree frogs all over our campsite. We couldn't have planned a better place for the kids to be entertained.

We had planned a Grand "Last Day" for our adventure. We were going to let the kids play in the morning, have a big breakfast, and then head out to Nashville where we were going to stop at an ice cream joint recommended by Taylor Swift herself. We were then going to head up to Louisville and go see the giant Louisville Slugger baseball bat thing that Mike wanted to do and then drive the rest of the way home.
What ended up happening was: we saw the weather report.

 It was a 40% chance of severe thunderstorms starting at 6am.

 Bleh, who wants to spend the last morning of the trip taking down the tent in pouring rain? so... new plan. We got up at 5, broke camp and were on the road by a little after 6 with pop tarts for breakfast. Now the ice cream place didn't open till noon, so we didn't want to sit in the parking lot waiting for 4 hours so we decided to press on. The more we pressed on and the closer we got, the less we wanted to stop and do other stuff, so we just drove home.

Coming home was precious because we have been blessed with incredible friends. Our house was cleaned, our laundry was done, our fridge was stocked, googly eyes were attached to all sorts of funny things around the house, pictures of Hippie Phil Collins were taped in places to startle us, and all of our silverware was frozen in a clump. My favorite part is that it's not just one friend who is so entertaining and wonderful, it's that God has blessed us with many different friends who bring this fun and blessings to our lives.

We are very glad to be home, but I admit we have put another trip in the 5 year plan again.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

We left Phoenix this morning after I made french toast for breakfast. It made me realize how long it had been since i'd cooked. It was such a great break, that it was actually nice to cook again. We drove for several hours and stopped at a rest area for lunch. We were glad we decided to eat when we did because the next rest area was 123 miles away. There was a lot of, shall we say, open spaces today. It was amazing to be able to see so far that we watched storms with lightening while we were in the shining sun. We also got to see several dust devils while we were driving in Arizona. Those were really cool to see too.

 After a while these cacti developed personalities. Especially the ones with two arms. This one had an arm stolen by a coyote and he's kind of sad about it. He plots how to poke the coyote if he comes around again.
 Then you get to sections where you can envision the group dynamics if they were a crowd of people. The ones with lots of tall sections are rastafarians :) or maybe it's just too much time looking at desert that gives one an active imagination....
 This was one of the storms we were watching. Not sure if you can tell or not, but the closer clouds were actually pink on the bottom from reflecting the red desert dirt.
 We stopped by the Petrified Forest and it turned out to be very cool. These trees don't just turn into any kind of rock. they turn into pretty rocks.
 We were surprised by the colors.
 It's a tree, no it's a rock, no it's a rock that used to be a tree. crazy cool stuff.
 Hey Dad, I'm still super cute. You know you want me in that picture.
We also got to see the Painted Desert. The rock layers were just beautiful.
 We actually had really great weather for our visit. A storm was coming so it wasn't super hot.
 Well, then we drove on to see a 600 year old indian village and we were closer to the storm. The wind really picked up then. It was actually chilly, but we ran and saw what we wanted to see. It was very interesting.

 these drawings were on the rocks next to the village.
After that we drove through some rain, stopped at the visitors center so the twins could get their Jr. Ranger badges, and drove to Galllup, New Mexico. We ate at a local mexican restaurant on Route 66 because we felt that we had to have some good mexican food in New Mexico, although we did pass a Taco Bell to get there :) then we crashed in our hotel room and watched HGTV till we could watch no more. Tomorrow we head to a Lake north of Amarillo, TX and begin the last leg of camping to get us home. See you all soon!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Family fun time

Wow, what a great week in Southern California. We were so glad to get to spend time with family and everyone made time in their busy schedules for us. We stayed two nights with Aunt Marlene. She taught Jillian and Suzy how to knit. Jillian was so excited, she's been wanting to learn. We went to Laguna Beach and found a great little cove for the kids to play in. Since the waves were high, we thought we'd leave the kids in their clothes so there would be no arguing about "how far in was too far" and they could just play in the sand. This lasted maybe 15 seconds because the first wave (when they were in only to their ankles) splashed up all over their shorts. Veronica was the only one to stay dry, and she really tried not to get wet. A nice lady shared buckets and shovels with the girls, and they immediately set to work building "West Coast Fort Becks" ie a giant wall of sand to block the waves. They had a blast and we had a blast watching them. toward the end, Suzy decided to play her "run screaming from the waves game" that she has played since she was two. that girl loves to run. After a couple minutes though, there came a wave that Suzy could not outrun. It scooped her up and she tumbled head over heals sideways, ending up in a seated  upright position with her feet in front of her floating as if on a board as the wave rolled in. Poor thing looked like a wet cat and we had to yell at her to stand up so she didn't just ride the wave on out again. That wave also took out the West Coast Fort Becks level to the ground and finally got veronica wet. we decided it was time to head back. we stripped the children down to their underwear at the van and brushed them off as best we could before we put hoodies on them to drive them home. Suzy had a solid layer of sand everywhere. we lifted her shirt and she looked like she was covered in fur. her pockets were loaded down with sand. She was blessed to escape with only one scrape on her arm. We went back to Aunt Marlene's and showered and then went off to have dinner with GG Marge and GG Art. We enjoyed a wonderful evening visiting on their back patio and watching their hummingbird "Red" fend off all the other hummingbirds from GG Marge's gourmet feeders.

 The next morning we had a delicious breakfast with Aunt Marlene and then packed up for Uncle Marlin and Aunt Patti's house. Since the beach was not cooperating, we called cousin Cassidy and went swimming in their pool for a couple hours. It's a fun pool and it's salt water, not chlorine, so the kids eyes weren't hurting. I hope this idea takes off in Ohio. Then we dried off and headed to Marlin and Patti's. They were so sweet and offered us a date night out, so we happily took them up on it. Aunt Marlene had given us a great coupon so we decided to use it and go to a local italian place for dinner. Marino's was delicious and the service was awesome. We then followed some of Cassidy's advice and headed to Belmont Shore. We parked our hoopdie minivan (which i had to ask mike how to spell it by the way, so that means we definitely aren't cool enough to use that word- especially because Mike wasn't sure how to spell it) and strolled with all the hip and happening crowd.   We ended up at Sweet Jill's to pick up a couple treats to share with Marlin and Patti as a thank you. We were going to get ice cream, but were still too full from dinner. We got home and realized that our poor "slightly warm" Jillian had turned into a shivering but hot sicky girl that evening. Her fever lasted all the next day, so she and I stayed home from church. Danelle still brought her kids over for lunch in the afternoon, so we kept Jillian upstairs for most of the time which was a bummer because Eli loves rocks as much as Jillian. The rest of the kiddos played happily for the afternoon, and then the rest of the crew went over to see Danelle's house and tree house while Jillian and I stayed at the house and prayed her fever would go away for Disneyland the next morning. Sadly her fever did not break, but she was very understanding  (and we certainly are praying that nobody else takes it on cruises or off to college or anything else with them). She had to miss out on Disneyland, but was comforted by a whole day of screens and a promise to go to Kings Island when we get home. Mike gets the World's Greatest #1 SuperDad award for taking the other 3 girls to a busy crowded Disneyland by himself for most of the day.  Cousin Sheri did come help make the day a bit more girlie by bringing awesome tiaras and glow necklaces for the kids after the evening parade. And Aunt Patti gave me the chance to run up to Starbucks for a little time out of the house after sitting with fever kid for a couple days.

 Thankfully Jillian's fever broke during the night before our last full day in California, so she was able to swim in the pool at Uncle Larry and Aunt Lori's house and then go to the beach one last time and then swim in the pool some more. In a very exciting turn of events, Veronica learned to swim in their pool. We took a girl who didn't know how to come up for air and are bringing home a girl who can almost tread water and can certainly jump in one side of the pool and make her way to the other side of the pool by herself. We are also bringing home slightly pinker children than we left with. There is no amount of sunscreen that can completely hide the ohio-ness of our fair skin, so we are glad that we reapplied the 50 as often as we did and guess that when you get to the point where 50 times longer than zero is still zero minutes till you burn, then it's time to come in. The girls had a great time with their cousins Cassidy and Crystal. Veronica decided to be a mini-me for Crystal and Alyssa has declared she is never going to take out the braid that Cassidy put in her hair.

Our last day in Cali we headed to downtown LA to see the Hollywood sign and drive down Hollywood Boulevard. We also drove through Beverly Hills where I accidentally sang the song about Bel Air instead of one about Beverly Hills. We then saw some Beverly Hills Cops and drove down Rodeo Drive and talked a lot about stuff that our kids couldn't give two hoots about, bless their hearts. We did tell them that some of the clothes in those stores probably cost more than our van and that impressed them a little :)

So after driving in LA traffic we decided to hit the road and head to Phoenix. It's very very hot in Phoenix. The great news is that our AC works really well on the highway, so we didn't even notice how hot it was till we stopped for gas. Then it was very hard to convince the children to get out of the car. We drove through some neat desert and enjoyed seeing all the giant cactus. The kids took turns reading out of the "States" book as we had missed reading about California and Oregon and caught up to Arizona. We got to Aunt Meribeth and Uncle Dave's house around 7:30 and enjoyed visiting for a couple hours. We saw this beautiful sunset on the way.

Uncle Dave had several appointments the next day, so we decided to hang out at our hotel and swim the next morning. Then we headed over and visited with cousin Elizabeth and cousin Andy till they got home. We got to meet Elizabeth's son Logan. He is such a cutie. I wish i had a picture of his belly button, it's just like a cabbage patch doll's belly button.

We were so glad to have a chance to sit down and visit with them, and we were especially glad that Uncle Dave was home from the hospital and we were all healthy enough to get to see him. We had a delicious Italian dinner with a baked ziti that will probably make baked ziti part of our dinner rotation from now on.We finally said goodbye and headed back to our hotel, which we are loving with it's super great price and little kitchen to cook in. If these were all over the country, we wouldn't be camping. and the fun part of it is, that it looks like this...
which totally reminds us of National Lampoon's Vacation hee hee.

Friday, July 19, 2013


So today i got lazy and just uploaded a bunch of pictures to Facebook, they're in my Summer 2013 album if you want to see them. We are having a wonderful time in LA with family. We got to Grandma Maxine's house on tuesday night. The drive from San Fran to Phelan (which is pronounced "feelin" according to the people who know these things) was pretty boring, BUT it was one where I actually drove a bit (which hadn't happened for a while, poor mike) and the kids realized that when mom and dad promised them two episodes of their new pokemon shows from Nanny they scored gold because they were full length movies, not episodes and we had promised two.... so they watched tv almost the whole drive.

We felt very loved because Grandma Maxine cooked for us and we had heard from very reliable sources that Grandma Maxine doesn't cook. The bonus was that there was even ice cream with magic shell.
We chatted till dark and then got a great night's sleep. We spent the next morning hearing stories of Grandma Maxine's travels and mission trips. We shared scarey mountain road stories and agreed that the jungle probably has more mosquitoes than Diamond Lake. probably.  Grandma treated us to Subway for lunch and then we headed out to Uncle Bernie and Aunt Jeanette's house "down the hill" as Grandma Maxine called it.

We got there in time to unload and let the children run around the house marveling at all the fun to be had because Aunt Jeanette had told them it was a "kid friendly house" and they took her at her word :) They were very sweet and drove us all to the picnic so we could have leg room and simply be along for the ride. it was heavenly:) The picnic was great. There was more than enough delicious food and the company couldn't have been better. We got to catch up with California cousins/Aunts/Uncles/Grandparents and hear all about the Portland Becksforts' trip to Disneyland and the beaches. The sadness of the picnic being over and having to say goodbye to the Portland Becksforts was tempered because after the picnic, we got to take another cousin home with us. Ava and cousin Mandy had planned a sleepover and there were 3 little party crashers that Mandy was sweet enough to take on for the evening as well. Sadly, by the time Mandy got them all to sleep, the rest of us had crashed (this is the part where our being "old" begins to show).

By the next morning, the kids had decided to draw up adoption papers for Aunt Jeanette. Who wouldn't want to live where cousin Chad lets you beat him with pillows and there are Lucky Charms and Trix for breakfast? Aunt Jeanette tried to explain to them that life is a little different when you live there all the time, but I don't think they bought it.

We had our first In-N-Out Burger for lunch. It was tasty! I have to admit that I'm a fan and that it's probably a good thing they don't have them in Ohio. We headed over to the shop to visit Bernie and show the girls where Mike worked when he lived here for a summer. They are very curious children and would have kept Bernie busy all day with questions and their desire to touch and explore everywhere. It was at the shop that i realized that I didn't get a picture of us with Aunt Jeanette and Chad and Mandy. boo. Bernie didn't get away so easily:)

Finally, we headed out to Aunt Marlene's via a quick little road trip to drive past the house where Mike lived with Grandpa John and Maxine, my goodness so much has changed. We didn't even recognize the house.

We arrived at Aunt Marlene's and settled in. Sadly, we have learned the beaches are closed because of riptides till Monday. This is something we had not really considered when planning our trip. Poor Jillian is just having no luck getting into water this summer. The pool at the hotel in San Fran was closed too. we may have to stay an extra day just to get some beach time in.

Monday, July 15, 2013

San Francisco

Mom and Dad arrived safely and it was great fun to see them "on the road". Mom and I did pretty well only chatting for a short bit when they got here even though we were excited to see each other. It may have had something to do with the fact that it was 3am for Mom, but we'll credit our self control and wisdom to conserve our energy. We planned a short day in the city for our first day and it was a good thing we did because our "short day" took us till 8pm to get back home. Figuring out public transportation takes a little while when you're used to being able to drive everywhere. We rode lots of buses and tram-thingys and a cable car though. The cable car was a roller coaster for the kids. Those roads are crazy. I think that will probably be my main impression of San Fran. "those roads are crazy". We visited Fisherman's Warf and Pier 39, spent some time in an old arcade. We ate at Fisherman's Grotto for lunch and it was delicious. We also went to the Ghirardelli Square where we got ice cream sundaes made with the world's best hot fudge. That was pretty much dinner.

Today we were a little better prepared thanks to Mike who had spent the evening figuring out bus routes and BART routes. We adjusted a little on the fly today, and definitely had a better grasp on what we were doing thanks to his research.

Crazy story of the day: We were downtown waiting for a bus when a van pulled up and a lady and her son jumped out. It was Missi Kershner, a mom I know from my Strategies group. We laughed at the odds that we would manage to run into each other, she snapped a pic and they ran off to buy her son pants at Old Navy because he forgot to pack any and it turns out that San Francisco is really stinking cold.

We hopped our bus and went to the Golden Gate Park and played at the children's playground. It was really cool and the kids had a blast running around and being free to be regular kids for a while, not tourist-y kids. they had a carousel in the park and we rode on it too. Alyssa made a friend. She is amazing at that. Give that girl 5 minutes on her own and she'll find a new friend.

 After that we went to find some lunch because it was like 1:30. Time is flying here. We ate at a little place called the Irving Street Cafe. We couldn't have had a better lunch. They were so nice. The 4 girls ate at the counter and the waitress took care of them like a mother, so we could eat peacefully at the table behind them. And the food was delicious! Simple easy food with fantastic prices. 8 of us ate our fill for under $50 and that included drinks. If we lived here, we would be regulars.

After lunch we hopped a bus back into town and headed to Lombard Street. It was crazy to see the tiny garages and driveways of the people who actually live on that street. they must all drive tiny cars or Vespas. We took the bus through Chinatown and then headed back to the BART station.

 I could definitely do the subway/train thing into downtown if they had it in Cincinnati. The buses were a little crowded sometimes in downtown, but almost everyone we spoke to was very kind.

 about 1/8 of the people smell like weed. some of them were smoking it right in the street. Veronica said at one point "why does it smell like poop" what has she been eating? why does my 4 year old's poop smell like weed? we're going to go with the general idea that she meant to convey it stinks and we can all get on board with that idea.